Seeing new media being launched is always uplifting, especially at a time when so many news organizations are shutting down or laying off staff.
Nonprofit international media organisation Rest of World launched two weeks ago with the bold mission of delivering tech coverage “outside the western bubble”.
The project was founded last year by Sophie Schmidt, a 32-year-old tech executive and the daughter of Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Google. The publication was supposed to open its New York office in March, but the COVID-19 crisis postponed its launch until mid-May.
The publication aims to cover tech stories from outside the North America/ European bubble – presenting globally relevant tech stories from countries like Turkey, Kenya or Thailand.
According to its mission statement Rest of World aims to fill the informational gap of tech coverage from Africa, Latin America, Eastern Europe or Asia, but also seeks to show the darker side of technological progress – that technology does not always bring equality, and the Western values are not universal.
“Tech was never a universal, one-size-fits-all endeavour, despite years of industry press suggesting precisely that,” Schmidt wrote in her letter to the public
Some of the first stories published on the website are about unequal access to the internet in India, how uncontrolled growth of access to digital services across the world is not always good and digital rights in Sudan.
The Rest of World’s team employs people who have a background living in around 40 countries and have worked at leading publications such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, Quartz, Harvard Business Review, South China Morning Post, and others.
Sophie Schmidt herself worked across different companies and countries, including South Africa and China. She believes that “people in North Korea, Myanmar, or Syria experience very different relationships with technology than those in San Francisco or Boston.”
It will be interesting to see how Rest of World will cover companies like Google, whose role in many non-Western markets has been contentious (i.e., due to censorship of results in China, but also the impact on local media markets), and where her father was CEO and Board Chair. According to BuzzFeed News, his estimated net worth is more than $13 billion.